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text 2018-12-06 02:02
Task 1: St. Nick book wish list

Dear St. Nick:

 

I have many bookish wishes for the holiday season. Some of them will be admittedly easier than others.

 

1. A complete set of the 130 books published by Persephone Books and all 687 Virago Modern Classics. In print and ebook formats please. I know this is a lot of books, so I will also need a few additional bookshelves.

 

2.  For someone to discover a trove - say a minimum of ten - Superintendent Battle/Colonel Race/stand-alone mysteries written by Agatha Christie between 1930 and 1945, previously undiscovered in a trunk in someone's country house.

 

3. A solid adaptation of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mysteries to be released on either Amazon or Netflix.

 

4. And, while we're talking adaptations here, the Amazon Middle Earth adaptation had better be amazing.

 

5. Since my visit to Memphis, Tennessee, it occurs to me that someone - and specifically an author of color since I'm not interested in a white washed version - needs to write a well-researched historical saga about the intersection of rock and roll and the civil rights movement on Beale Street from the perspective of the African-American community. Somewhere there is an author who can do it justice and I want to read this book (or, better yet this series of books).

 

I've always believed in you.

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review 2018-12-05 19:27
Review: Girls of Paper and Fire
Girls of Paper and Fire - Natasha Ngan

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I went into reading this one with minimal expectations, sounded good but wasn’t really expecting much as I have read so much fantasy this year, and most of it has been a mixed bag. The premise was interesting enough as was the Malaysian inspired premise – but reading in the blurb protagonist chosen to be part of a king’s harem and does the unthinkable – falls in love with someone else.

 

Initially there was a bit of eye rolling on my part and a guess – oh she’s going to fall for some guard or male servant or a prince who’s going to wind up helping her some way. Did I ever get a surprise on that department!

 

I found myself absolutely loving this book. I had started reading by ebook review galley, to find this was the book of the month in my Fairyloot subscription box and got a signed edition with the prettiest cover and pink sprayed edges. This is one of my top ten books of this year.

 

Trigger warnings – sexual assault. There is actually a warning for this on the inside cover of the hardback.

 

The world building is rich and well developed, in this fantasy there are three castes – Paper, the lowest caste, the humans, Steele – half human, half demons  - the middle cast – these people have demoneseque features and powers. Moon caste are the highest – complete demons form. The demon form is usually some sort of animal basis.

 

The heroine Lei lives a hard but happy life in her village with her father in his shop, they are both Paper, they live with her father’s assistant, a Steele class lady who has worked there as long as Lei can remember and is like family to them. Lei’s mother disappeared 10 years ago, taken by a demon army.

 

Every year a number of girls are chosen (read taken) by the Demon King’s army to be Paper Girls – the King’s Concubines – it’s not a request if you’re chosen. Lei finds herself taken by the army, she has unusual gold eyes – goddess touched – which earns her the army chief’s attention and he takes her thinking he can gain favour with the king.

 

Lei’s world is shattered. Lei has a strong voice and is fiery and determined. She was a brilliant lead, full of personality and promise, without being overly head strong or making stupid decisions and rash actions. She’s naturally completely against being a Paper Girl but figures once she’s at the Imperial Palace she might be able to find out what happened to her missing mother.

 

Paper Girls for this year’s crop have already been chosen so Lei’s addition is unusual. Her goddess touched gold eyes make her a viable option. Some of the girls there have been training for this for years and are from high class families, and your typical mean girls. Others are colder and more remote, and one girl is nice and friendly, if very naïve.

 

Lei reluctantly starts to settle into life at the Palace – an elevated life of culture and learning. The girls have a maid who helps them, and lessons, it’s very exclusive and luxurious – but there’s something quite oppressive about it as well. As there is always the threat of the reason why they are there – to serve as concubines to a demon king who doesn’t care if this is something the girls want or not.

 

The girls have to attend various Court events after they are presented to the King. The King makes his choices and one by one the girls are called on to perform their duties. The reactions they have after their night with the King is different for each girl. It’s very uncomfortable to read about.

 

The King is a young man, very handsome, but brutal, a bully, he has moments where you think there might be more to him than a cold ruler who has very little thought for anyone else other than what he wants. But just as quickly as you get that glimpse – something happens and he’s horrible again. And gets worse and worse throughout the novel.

 

While regular Paper Girl life is going on Lei finds herself becoming enamoured with one of the other Paper Girls. This is one the best slow burn romances I’ve come across in a long time. It’s so so slow but the build of anticipation is brilliant as Lei gets to know the girl, Wren. Wren was one of the ones who was cold and dismissive at first, but Wren is as mysterious as she is beautiful. Lei’s yearning comes through so vividly, as she tries to figure out her ceilings, worrying about waiting for her own turn with the king.

 

As the romance slowly blossoms, Lei starts learning some of Wren’s secrets. The plot starts picking upwards the end. There’s a few mysteries and some plot twists and a good burst of action towards the end. And a really WTF cliffhanger at the end. Just when you think everything might actually be okay… of course it’s not!

 

I can’t find enough words for how much I loved this book. There’s not much more I can say without being overly spoilerly about the overall plot. It’s hard to read in some places and deals with some serious issues. It gets uncomfortable. Other places it’s beautifully written with a moving romance, and some lovely female friendships.

 

I can’t wait for more of this series.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2018-11-25 01:01
An Excellent Mystery by Ellis Peters
An Excellent Mystery - Ellis Peters

I love this series more every time I read further into it. This is the eleventh of the Brother Cadfael mysteries, and is set in the fall of 1141. King Stephen and Empress Maude are making war, as usual, when two strangers show up at the Abbey in Shrewsbury.

 

This mystery centers around a young woman, Julian Cruce, who has disappeared before entering a convent. As mysteries go, it's quite easy to figure out - and there are, as well, some pretty obvious difficulties with the plot. None of that hampers my enjoyment of the book, however, as these mysteries have become one of my go to comfort reads.

 

I picked up my copy at Wallace Books today, for a whopping $3.50 of my credit, and dove right in after I finished putting up some of my Christmas decorations. I was really wanting the next book as well, The Raven in the Foregate, because it is a Christmas mystery. I've been reading them in order, so I was happy that this one was available, since I had read up to the tenth, but disappointed that there wasn't a copy of the next one to buy as well. At this point, I think I will probably buy a used print copy on amazon, since the kindle book is priced at over $10.00, which is high for a book first published 30 years ago. Maybe Open Road will put the series on sale over Christmas!

 

I'm using this book for Day of Penance (book concerning a man of the cloth/Brother Cadfael is a monk).

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text 2018-11-24 16:30
Moonlight Snow's 2018 Bookish Advent Tracking Post

 

I will be tracking my bookish advent season here! I'm still in the process of organizing things, but I think I've got things dialed in at this point, and I can focus more on the tasks/reading

 

 

RUNNING TOTAL: 21

 

Planning update:

 

With U.S. Thanksgiving on Thursday, I should have a bit of extra time to read and post. Like MBD, I plan on a bit of a flood of catching up on tasks - including some for my as yet uncompleted holidays: Diwali & International Day of Tolerance.

 

I've also got some books on my agenda: I picked up one of Cara Black's Aimee LeDuc books on my last trip to Wallace Books, which will fulfill the reading component of International Day of Tolerance (set in Paris), and I have the second Jane Harper mystery - Force of Nature - checked out of the library, which will fulfill the reading component of Melbourne Cup (set in Australia). I'm also considering between a few non-fiction possibilities for the reading element of Diwali.

 

Door 10: Bon Om Touk

 

Task 1:  Make a paper boat and post a picture of it.   Instructions, if needed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiAWx8odStA

 

Task 2: If you’ve ever attended a procession or an event involving festively decked out boats, post a picture and tell us about it.

 

Task 3: Bon Om Touk celebrates the end of the rainy season. Tell us: What’s your favorite type of rainy day book – and do you have a favorite drink or snack to go with your rainy day reading? Photos welcome!

 

Task 4: Which are your 3 favorite books where a key character is “moonlighting”?

 

Post for Tasks 2, 3, & 4 is here.

 

Book: Read a book that takes place at sea or on a river OR with water on the cover OR where the plot involves a festival or the moon plays a pivotal role in the plot.

 

+3

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text 2018-11-24 16:29
Door 10: Bon Om Touk

 

Task 2: If you’ve ever attended a procession or an event involving festively decked out boats, post a picture and tell us about it.

 

Like many river cities, Portland has an annual Christmas boat parade. I've only managed to get down to the river to see it a couple of times - the last time was when my kids were very young and my husband and I took them to dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory, which has an amazing river view. It was a lot of fun, and was very festive! People really deck out their boats for the holidays:

 

 

 

I don't have any pictures from the occasion, so I had to make do with this photo from google images.

 

 

Task 3: Bon Om Touk celebrates the end of the rainy season. Tell us: What’s your favorite type of rainy day book – and do you have a favorite drink or snack to go with your rainy day reading? Photos welcome!

 

Well, I live in Oregon, so pretty much every book is a rainy day book! In all seriousness, though, there's nothing like a mystery - especially of the Golden Age variety - for a rainy day. There's something so comfortable about curling up on the sofa with a quilt, a cup of coffee/tea or glass of wine, and whiling the rainy day reading (or re-reading) one of Dame Agatha's mystery.

 

Pictures of my favorite cozy reading spot:

 

 

 

Task 4: Which are your 3 favorite books where a key character is “moonlighting”?

 

Cozy mysteries lend themselves very well to this category, because most of them have main characters who moonlight as amateur sleuths:

 

1. Anything with Miss Marple, who is a fluffy old lady moonlighting as a detective;

2. The Brother Cadfael mysteries, with a monk who moonlights solving mysteries;

3. Discount Armageddon & Midnight Blue Light Special, where the cryptozoologist cum monster slayer Verity Price moonlights as a ballroom dancer.

 

Book: Read a book that takes place at sea or on a river OR with water on the cover OR where the plot involves a festival or the moon plays a pivotal role in the plot.

 

I think I will reread Death on the Nile for this one!

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